For the last year you’ve been regularly nagged in newsletters for financial contribution towards restoration funds, justified by huge debt or necessary restoration work. And then all of a sudden, the Christmas collection, substantially higher than usual ones, went to the local charities. Some of you might have scratched their heads wondering why on earth I decided to give money away while both parishes need it so desperately. I have to admit I struggled to make that decision for quite a long time, for exactly the same reason. A few days ago I read ‘A diagnosis of the problems in the Church’ by Cardinal Bergoglio, better known as Pope Francis. Let me quote just one short sentence: ‘When the Church does not come out of herself to evangelize, she becomes self-referential and then gets sick.’ It’s true about the Church as a whole, but it’s also true about a local parish, and it’s true about every individual. As I said in my sermon last night, the greatest danger we face is our own selfishness. It’s so dangerous for two reasons: first of all it reduces human beings to things that can be used, abused, exploited and eventually abandoned. It practically dehumanize other people. The second reason why selfishness is so dangerous is that it disguises itself well as something more acceptable and understandable.
Some people could argue that selfishness might be an unpleasant experience for those affected by it, but it’s good for the selfish person, as it delivers security, happiness and well-being. I’m afraid I’m not among those. I think that selfishness affects mainly those who are selfish. Mr Berezovski, a Russian oligarch found recently dead in his house, seemingly was a very happy chap: rich beyond imagination, pretty women at his fingertips, luxurious life. But his estranged wife substantially reduced his fortune, and then his young and beautiful girlfriend did something similar. If newspapers’ reports are right, he ended up his life with no friends around him. Selfishness is so dangerous because it disallows making friends and building relationships.
On this very day in the spirit we stand at the foot of the cross with Jesus crucified on it. His selflessness has gone to the ultimate limit in the fight against the ultimate evil of selfishness. That selflessness has seemingly been defeated by selfishness; the selfless man has been silenced once and for all – supposed those who were tools of selfishness. They turned out to be totally wrong. Over the centuries innumerable individuals have followed that pattern of selflessness presented by Jesus’ death, opening their hearts and arms to other people, sometimes paying the ultimate price of their lives. We are called to join that noble company, on our own small scale.